Practitioners' Continued Professional Development Sessions
Like any team facing the challenges of remote working due to the coronavirus pandemic, we at NEW Dance have been trying to make sure we stay connected, virtually if not physically. The previous nine months have been uncertain and worrying for so many people, including in the arts sector, so we wanted to play a part in ensuring the mental health and well-being of our practitioners.
About once a month, the team have been taking it in turns to host or present an online morale-boosting session, using their own existing skills to share ideas, and to educate and inspire their colleagues. Whilst this was the underlying purpose of the sessions, it was also a great way for everyone to connect and engage with one another whilst doing what we all love!
As we enter the tenth month of working remotely, we thought we would have a look back at some of these sessions and share what we enjoyed about them, how we found them useful, and maybe some ideas for other teams from other companies to use in order to keep their spirits and motivation levels up!
Our first session was a quiz about how well we know each other, arranged by our Artistic Director, Angela. We wanted to find out more about each other, so we could better support one another’s well-being at what was (and still is) a very stressful time. This was delivered in the form of a quiz so that it was light-hearted, but still brought us together as a team (albeit on screen) for the first time in a few months.
The next session was Zumba®, led by Patricia, which got us all moving and smiling, and blew away the metaphorical cobwebs.
Hanna then took up the baton with a Clubbercise® session, a welcome burst of activity for those of us missing our regular exercise classes and workouts.
Next, it was over to Rachel, who gave a brilliant presentation about the work she and another dance practitioner, Claire, had been doing with residents at HMP Berwyn up until the lockdown (the project is planned to continue once public health conditions allow). It was interesting to learn about the positive aspects and challenges of the work, and great to hear how much the residents enjoyed the sessions.
Helen then took on the challenge of a two-part presentation about a topic which had by then become the modus operandi for almost everyone – online activity delivery (in NEW Dance’s case, online dance delivery). Covering practical, technological and mental factors, this informative and well-planned presentation gave us much to consider!
After that, it was Daisy’s turn, who shared best practice when it comes to collaborative working, something else which has become more prevalent, especially in the world of the arts, during the current climate. By joining forces with different people or organisations, artists can use their combined skills and experience in various fields to support each other’s work and produce robust and meaningful results in a never-seen-before situation.
Our most recent session was an African dance lesson delivered by Rachel, which was great fun, and a lovely, energetic way to spend a Friday afternoon. As an administrator, not a dancer, I had to simplify the steps for myself somewhat, but that in no way detracted from the enjoyment!
And finally, we had our team Christmas celebration! Unlike our usual team Christmas parties, this one took place online but it was still an opportunity to have fun together and exchange seasonal greetings and joy. It also gave us the chance to reflect on the previous year, and prepare as a team for the challenges and opportunities of the coming year.